All about Microsoft Power Apps

Florian Schwyter

Florian Schwyter

The consultant got to know the potential of Power Apps in numerous projects. He advises and supports customers in the conception and development of Power Apps.
Ralf Riethmuller

Ralf Riethmuller

Heads the service department at KUMAVISION. In this role, the technology expert is also responsible for Cloud, Teams and office 365

 

What are Microsoft Power Apps?

Ralf Riethmuller: On the one hand, Power Apps is a platform that companies can use to quickly and easily create their own apps for smartphones, tablets and browsers. On the other hand, the term refers to the apps implemented with this platform. Power Apps are therefore not standard programs, but are created individually by us or our customers. The Power Apps concept provides lean solutions that can be operated intuitively - not only on mobile devices.

“Power Apps are the epitome of agile development. "

Florian Schwyter, Consultant Microsoft 365 and Power Platform, KUMAVISION AG

Why are Power Apps so important for digital transformation?

Florian Schwyter: Companies today are faced with the task of digitizing a large number of processes. Power Apps enable clear solutions that are easy to use. Power Apps are much more than just an electronic replacement for paper and pen. They accelerate processes, exchange data with other applications, have intelligent program logic, reduce the error rate and relieve employees of time-consuming routine tasks. Power Apps are often used to simplify internal processes that involve multiple departments. What makes Power Apps so attractive for digitization is - in addition to their ease of use - above all the extremely high development speed compared to classic software solutions.

Where are Power Apps used?

Ralf Riethmuller: There are no limits for Power Apps in the company, they can be used in all areas of the company. These can be apps for technical field service, lean solutions for mobile timekeeping, time-saving workflows for forms of all kinds, for reserving office workspaces or for returning devices in service.

Florian Schwyter: Power Apps are an ideal complement, but not a substitute for an ERP or CRM system. Here it is important to always consider the overall solution and to clarify which task can best be mapped in which system. What does a typical power app from KUMAVISION look like? Schwyter: A practical example: Let's assume you rent out drying equipment for construction sites. The Power App bundles all field service tasks on a clear, intuitive interface. The app guides the employee step by step through all the tasks to be completed. Instead of writing down the serial number of the device with pen and paper, a QR code is simply scanned. The app then displays all relevant device data in a way that prevents confusion. Power consumption and operating hours are then determined. A plausibility check integrated in the app prevents reading errors. The condition of the device and the completeness of the accessories are checked using a digital checklist. The technician can easily dictate any damage via voice input. If an insurance company requires documentation of the construction site, the employee can simply use the tablet's camera to do so. The customer then acknowledges the return of the device via the touchscreen.

Ralf Riethmuller: But the use of our Power App does not end there. In the background, the app automatically creates a damage report with a description and photos as a PDF and sends it to the insurance company. The consumption data recorded via the app and the working hours of the service technician are transmitted to the ERP system, where the creation of an invoice is triggered directly.

"With Power Apps and our templates, the barriers to entry for digital transformation are lower than ever."

Florian Schwyter, Consultant Microsoft 365 and Power Platform, KUMAVISION AG

What is behind the buzzword "Low Code" when developing such an app?

Ralf Riethmuller: Microsoft follows the approach that Power Apps can be created with little or no programming knowledge. In practice, low code means that you don't work with classic programming commands. Instead, a large number of ready-made functions are available, for example for entering data, using the camera, displaying maps and diagrams, displaying PDF files or using the touchscreen. These elements can be easily arranged on the screen in the desired process sequence using drag-and-drop.

Florian Schwyter: The low-code approach certainly applies to simple tasks. However, if data is to be exchanged with other applications, somewhat advanced programming knowledge is required. From my own experience, I can say that anyone who already works intensively with Excel formulas, for example, can also familiarize themselves quickly and easily with Power Apps. Thanks to low code, the pace of development is generally very high.

How do these advantages show up in practice?

Florian Schwyter: Power Apps are the epitome of agile development. Many customers are surprised when a working prototype can be presented after just half a day. Power Apps are created in close cooperation with our customers, usually at short intervals - so-called "sprints" of one to two weeks. User feedback is implemented directly, and the app is then gradually expanded. Thanks to the simple development, many changes can be implemented live in coordination meetings. By the way: Only one app has to be developed for all platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows. This increases the speed even more compared to native apps, which have to be programmed separately for each operating system.

How does it interact with other applications?

Ralf Riethmuller: Power Apps make the globally unique concept of the Microsoft technology platform vividly tangible. With Power Apps I can do almost all Office 365-Integrate applications and automate workflows – from sending e-mails and scheduling appointments with Outlook to posting in teams. Furthermore, of course, data can also be included Dynamics 365 - i.e. ERP and CRM - exchange. Even the use of Microsoft Azure services such as IoT or AI is possible without any problems.

Florian Schwyter: It is also important in this context that Microsoft is not pursuing a closed approach here, quite the opposite. Several hundred connectors are available with which third-party solutions can be connected.

“Power Apps make the globally unique concept of the Microsoft technology platform vividly tangible. With Power Apps I can do almost all Office 365-Integrate applications and automate workflows.”

Ralf Riethmüller, Head of Division Cloud and Services, KUMAVISION AG

How are Power Apps distributed?

Florian Schwyter: Just as convenient as it is transparent. It is sufficient to install a basic app from Microsoft for iOS or Android on the mobile device. IT can then centrally provide various Power Apps for the company. Through the Office user administration 365 It is possible to define exactly who can use which app. Another advantage: Thanks to automatic updates, everyone always works with the current version of the Power App.

Ralf Riethmuller: Many of our customers integrate their Power Apps directly into Microsoft Teams. Employees then don't have to switch between two programs, but do everything directly in teams. This is particularly appreciated by employees who do not work in the office, but rather in production, warehouse or field service, and are not very computer-savvy.

What do you have to consider when it comes to costs?

Ralf Riethmuller: The good news first: Power Apps are in many Office 365- and Business Central license models already included. Companies can get started with it without additional costs. In the case of complex scenarios, however, the license model must be checked carefully, for example when Power Apps write to the ERP system. We would be happy to advise you on this.

"There are no limits to the use of Power Apps in the company."

Ralf Riethmüller, Head of Division Cloud and Services, KUMAVISION AG

What offers does KUMAVISION offer?

Ralf Riethmuller: Of course, the focus is on the conception and development of Power Apps and their integration into the IT and process landscape. In addition, we also provide advice on strategy, IT architecture and process optimization with a newly established team. Because digitization should never be limited to simply replicating existing processes 1:1 digitally.

Florian Schwyter: For specific use cases, such as field service, we offer ready-made, fully functional Power Apps. With us, companies can easily adapt them to their individual requirements or expand the apps and thus reach their goals even faster. Or to put it another way: With Power Apps and our templates, the barriers to entry for digital transformation are lower than ever.

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